March 12, 2012 10:15 AM, EDT

Brenny Wins 2012 Award From Women in Trucking

Brenny (center) with Voie (left) and Navistar’s Phyllis Cochran.
By Rip Watson, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the March 12 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Joyce Brenny received the second Influential Woman in Trucking award, which recognized her contributions to trucking and commitment to people in the industry.

Brenny, who is the founder and president of Brenny Transportation, St. Cloud, Minn., initially entered trucking as a part-time driver.

The award was presented by the Women in Trucking Association on March 6 here during the Truckload Carriers Association conference.

Navistar Inc. sponsored the event. The judges included Ellen Voie, president of Women in Trucking; Transport Topics Editorial Director Howard Abramson; and Rochelle Bartholomew, CEO of CalArk International Inc. and winner of last year’s award.

Brenny, who was the Minnesota Trucking Association’s first chairwoman, founded her company in 1996 after deciding she wasn’t pleased with the way other companies were run.

“My mission is to help women find better and safer ground, and to move up the ladder,” she said. “[Women] need some mentoring to move up.”

“Women have tremendous skills,” she added, citing values such as multitasking and “the ability to keep their cool,” which are especially useful in customer service positions at her company.

“Joyce cares deeply about truck drivers,” said Voie, noting that the company now has more than 50 drivers. Voie said Brenny also was recognized for her commitment to fundraising.

Brenny was selected from a group of 105 applicants, more than triple the number nominated for the initial award last year.

“I grew up on a farm with brothers — driving grain trucks was not a big deal,” Brenny said. She said her first job, which was supposed to be part time, was hauling lumber while she was in college.

“I think of myself as one of the people in the industry who wants to make it better for men and women,” said Brenny.

She also said her priorities include mentoring and assuring that the trucking workplace — including truck stops — is safe.

“I had that in the forefront when I started the company in 1996 — put people first before anything,” Brenny said. “Put people first and profits second. Why do we have less than 10% turnover? It’s about the people.”

One recruiting priority, she said, is to hire husband-and-wife and other driving teams, with a focus on teams with men older than 40, a group that constitutes the highest percentage of unemployed workers in the United States.

Brenny said she is committed to being active in local organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, even in communities as small as 2,000 people.

“You really, really have to get involved in the grass roots,” she said, adding that the company also does that by hosting open houses and sponsoring local fund raising.

There were two other finalists for the award: Sandra Ambrose-Clark, president of ESJ Carrier Corp., Cincinnati, and Judith McReynolds, CEO of Arkansas Best Corp., Fort Smith, Ark.